According to Forbes, women control more than 80% of consumer spending. Yet the majority of us don’t like how we’re being marketed to. Why does Madison Avenue continually fall short? One glaring reason: only 3% of advertising Creative Directors are women.
What if more women were CDs?
If the very people being marketed to had the power to decide what the creative should be, would there be less frat boy humor? Would the messaging be more relevant? You bet your platform heels it would.
If you ask Kat Gordon, the founder of Maternal Instinct, she'll tell you the three industries worst at marketing to women are: automotive, insurance and financial services.
So taking cars as an example, let’s fantasize about what a woman-driven campaign might look like. I’m guessing the TV commercials would have fewer sexy blondes, salt flats, and car chases. How fast the car goes might not be as important as how fast it stops. And what it does to the planet.
Instead of spending 30 million dollars to show the same commercial over and over again, maybe more of the budget would find its way into digital & social. The website might not be completely geared toward gearheads. Sure, it would have car specs – how fast it goes, how much room it has, miles per gallon it gets. But it might also have real-life info, like how easy it is to park, or install kids’ car seats, whether it’ll destroy your Louboutins, how much maintenance it requires, or expensive it is to insure.
Maybe there would be a Facebook page with links to basic automotive repair, women automotive bloggers sharing their POV, or a community for women car owners. Sound crazy to you? Sounds great to me.
How can more women CDs get in the driver’s seat?
So aside from being brilliant art directors, designers and copywriters, how can more women CDs get and keep a seat at the decision-making table? Here’s my theory. Madison Avenue is still a boy’s club. Which means it’s not enough to have the talent and skills. Women CDs need every advantage we can get. We need to be social ninjas.
Climbing the ladder by speaking social
Mastering social media is like mastering a second language. At agencies big and small all across the country, most Creative Directors can speak “tourist social”. They know the basic opportunities Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn can offer. But they’re not fluent enough to truly make each platform work its unique brand magic. Not to mention they don’t know how to make social work for their own brand – their own career.
As it turns out, women are naturally better at social (and digital) because we’re inherently better at nurturing relationships over time. This is an advantage we can exploit.
Admittedly, social may not be a big part of most advertisers’ budgets. But to some extent, it’s still a shiny object and we know how fond clients are of those. Plus, the fact that there’s not as much money at stake makes it easier to take risks.
This is where women CDs come in. The digital/social seat is hard as hell to fill. Which is why management is less concerned about a CD's gender and more concerned about their level of fluency.
A conference for Donna Drapers
The importance of mastering social media for your clients' benefit and your own is just one of the topics we'll be diving into at The 3% Conference, the first event of its kind for women Creative Directors.
If you agree that the lack of Donna Drapers isn’t just a gender issue, it’s an business issue, please join me on October 16-17th in San Francisco as we shine a light on the business imperative of having more women creating advertising that connects with the most powerful marketing segment on the planet. And in case you’re worried that like many conferences you’ve attended, this one will turn into a group therapy session, with no concrete idea of what to do next, I assure you the 3% conference will be focused on problem solving.
In the panels I’m forming and speaking on, top women Creative Directors and other experts will share knowledge and tips so that each and every creative in the room can learn what she can do to improve her chances of climbing the ladder.